August 1, 2017

Game Lecture: Simon Niedenthal

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About the talk:

The study of the sense of smell is a hot topic nowadays, with major scientific advances coming on a regular basis. From the recent recalculation that humans are capable of discerning as many as one trillion odors—making smell our most nuanced sense— to new connections between olfactory capabilities and longevity, current publications on smell convey a sense of excitement and discovery.

The exploration of the design potentials for smell in games, media and interaction has, on the other hand, remained fitful, dogged by high-profile technical failures and dismissive cultural attitudes towards the sense. This talk will give a brief history of scented media and games, exploring some fruitful avenues for further study, as well as suggesting a template for studying new forms of interaction in design domains with no standards, or few canonical design examples.

Simon will conclude by reflecting on some of the practical challenges of designing for smell in games and developing smell output hardware for virtual reality.

About Dr Niedenthal:

Dr. Simon Niedenthal is an Associate Professor of Interaction Design at Malmö University, Sweden. His game studies research addresses the way in which digital artifacts appeal to the senses through their aesthetic devices.

Dr. Niedenthal’s educational background is eclectic: he holds a B.F.A. in photography, an M.A. in medieval English literature, and a Ph.D. in interaction design. In 2008 he defended his Ph.D. thesis 'Complicated Shadows: the Aesthetic Significance of Simulated Illumination in Digital Games’ in the area of game lighting and its effect upon the emotions and behavior of the player. Since 2010 he has employed his multidisciplinary background to explore the history and potentials of smell-enabled gaming and the playful uses of scent. Dr. Niedenthal's recent scholarly writings in the area of olfaction include 'Skin Games: Fragrant Play, Scented Media and the Stench of Digital Games' and 'Vile Perfume: The Future of the Zombie in the Smellscape of Gaming.’

He is currently engaged in 'Nosewise,’ a Stockholm University research project which aims to investigate the potential of smell-enabled gaming to enhance cognitive capacity.